If you take yourself a few years back, the content was not the MVP of the hour, and marketing strategies revolved around sales advertisements, etc. However, the ever-expanding world of content, along with the increase in the usage of the internet has truly proved that content is true, the King. Marketers have realized that sending meaningful and informative articles at their users or potential audience helps to build trust like nothing else. However, as a brand or a user makes a content strategy, there is one question that remains constant – Short Form Vs. Long-form content. Which is better and what will work for me is one question that we have always encountered while discussing content marketing.
When we take an extensive look into this dilemma, there is no straight answer. There are a lot of factors that we have to consider, before deciding on Long or Short-form content. In this article, I will walk you through both the type of content, their pros and cons, and the factors should you consider while deciding between them.
Let’s start with Short-form Content, and take a look at its pros and cons.
What is Short-form Content?
Short-form content is considered to be less than 1000 words, which is simple, easy, and quick for the reader to grasp. Some marketers draw the line at 1200 words while others do so at 600, but the general understanding of the short content is anything under 1000 words.
The idea of short-form content is to get the idea or the message across without any game-playing. It is straight-forward, with uncomplicated verbiage, that does not require complex or critical thinking to get through to the other side. Instead of going in-depth into a topic, you can just cover a specific area.
For example, Instagram Captions are short-form content as they are precise, to the point, and urge the readers to take a look at them. Similarly, almost all the social content that we see on our phone while scrolling away is a form of short-content.
Other examples include News articles, infographics, emails, small duration videos, etc.
The trend towards short-form content started with the advent of social media. It also popularized because most of the readers and users are looking at the content through their mobile phones or tablets. Instead of reading line by line, they go through the article, scanning and finding their interest point. This is the reason why vines were so famous, and the recent Tik-tok popularity has hit off the charts. The attention span needed for these types of content is small, and therefore have to be engaging and creative. Even Pinterest, which is so easy on the eyes, is a form of short-content.
What is Long-form Content?
You might have already guessed what long-form content is. Anything that goes beyond 1000-1200 words comes under the long-form category. These are more informative, in-depth, and insightful, and not made for a quick-glance reading. Rather, you need to sit down and invest your time.
Few of the examples of long-form content are – Detailed blog-post, white papers, e-books, webinars, pillar pages, guides, evergreen pages, tutorials – you get the drill, right?
The long-form content aims to engage the audience as it provides a topic on which the reader is looking to educate themselves. Moreover, long-form performs extremely well on the Search Engine, particularly Google when compared to short-form content. It is a very common SEO practice to mention that blogs with more than 2000-3000 words catch the attention of Google, rather than the same topic covered within 1000 words. And as we know, putting content on the internet means you want to see it on the #1 page.
Long-form content is also a great addition to an online marketing strategy. Why; you ask? Because in-depth guides, tutorials, & informative posts are used to cater to the highly-invested audience that is looking to get a deeper insight into your services, products, or skills. As you provide them with informative articles, their trust and your brand value significantly increase.
That being said, it does not mean that short-form content loses its value when you’re trying to aim for better visibility on the internet. These two types of content have their set of pros and cons – which we will be seeing in the next segment.
Pros & Cons – Short-form & Long-form Content
As I mentioned before, there is no one answer to what is a better type of content. They each have a set of pros and cons, and you need to decide which one aligns with your end goals.
Pros of Short-form Content
- In today’s fast life where everyone lives on social media or their cell phones, the short-form content provides an effective, quick, and interesting way to send across a piece of information, make a point, or simply converse with your audience. It is the easiest mode of communication you can adopt.
- Short-form content is less resource-intensive and comes around quickly when compared to the long-form content.
- It is mobile-friendly, which makes it easier for people to consume the content on their commute, or while mindlessly scrolling, etc.
Cons of Short-form Content
- It is not evergreen, which means it can easily get out of fashion and lose interest over time.
- Does not do well with search engines, which might beat the point of writing a blog post or article if you’re trying to rank.
- With short-form content, you have to stick with a specific area of a topic, and you will be unable to cover a topic completely in one go.
- Might work for some time, but once it gets formulaic, it becomes harder to catch the attention of the readers.
Pros of Long-form Content
- Long-form content performs better when you’re looking through SEO-point of view. As Google ranks long-term content in a higher place, it makes it easier to perform better. Moreover, a search query by any internet user requires detailed results.
- As an in-depth article will be able to cover more keywords, this type of content again fairs well when ranking on search engines.
- Another SEO benefit of long-term content is that it allows you to add more backlinks, thereby, amplifying your blog/website’s performance.
- As a person who lands on your detailed article, blog, video, or any other form of content, he will stay for a longer period of time as it serves their purpose. This leads to a better conversion rate.
As we can see, long-form content is largely needed for SEO purposes and fits quite well with many business’s marketing strategies.
In conversation with one of the leading digital marketing agencies in India, we discussed how the benefit of producing content goes beyond SEO, and, therefore, Long-form content should not be the only way forward for many aspiring businesses.
Cons of Long-form Content
- Long-form content is time and resource-intensive, which means you will need a larger financial investment, and therefore, a larger return.
- It is not very mobile-friendly, which needs more creative ability to catch the attention of your readers.
- The short attention span of the readers might not do well with long-form content, thereby increasing the bounce rate of your website/blog.
The Factors that make the decision
We have already discussed that any form of content, whether short-form or long-form, is not superior to the other. To have a successful content strategy, you need to make use of both of them.
As there is no one true answer, you need to consider many factors before deciding on the content type. Let’s check them out.
It’s important to have clear, defined goals which you expect from the content that you’re putting out to the world. The smarter way is to reverse engineer and use your goal to decide what type of content form will work the best for you.
For example, if you are looking to enhance your SEO and ranking positions, a long-form content may give you better results. On the other hand, if you’re looking to introduce a new product or service to your existing customer, a newsletter or social media posts, which are short-form content will perform much better.
Another thing that greatly influences your content decision is the search intent. If you understand why a particular buyer or user is searching for a term, you will be able to curate content around it better and determine the length of the content.
Let’s take a look at an example – If someone is looking for a road trip checklist – they won’t go ahead and read a long-form content that describes everything about a road trip and why you need it. Their search demands a quick result, which is what you’re supposed to give to them.
On the other hand, if they are searching for a guide on how to change car tyres, they are probably looking for long-form content.
Competition is the driving force of every business. As you take a look at different competitors who are ranking for the same keyword that you’re looking to target, you get a clear picture of what you need to do in order to gain the #1 spot.
For example, if the search engine brings you the top 10 results and the average length of the content is around 2500 words, you know you need to write more than that to come under the search engine’s radar.
Know your Audience
As a business, knowing what your audience wants is the first step to success. Similar, when deciding between long-form & short-form content, it is better to see what your audience consumes. You will have to go through trial and error to see which one delivers the best results for your target audience and end goals.
This brings us to the end of the article. There will never be a single answer to the question- which is a better content form. Align the deciding factors with your goal, and that is where you answer lies.
If you have any doubts or queries, feel free to comment below.